"But it's my money...and I wants it!"
So went the refrain in my head today while negotiating with our US bank on two issues: a durable power-of-attorney so my father could withdraw funds from our American account to pay Florida bills (property taxes, renter's insurance, etc); and a wire transfer to move some cash over to our UK bank, taking advantage of the unseasonably low dollar-to-sterling exchange rate.
"But it's my money...and I wants it!"
Not good enough for our US bank, I'm afraid. Not that we went into this completely blind, mind you. Back in July, we paid a US attorney to draw up a power-of-attorney (and various other documents, wills and the like) before we left. However, apparently the boilerplate wasn't quite exacting enough for our bank to accept, whose legal counsel deemed it "deficient." So they sent us a new power-of-attorney form to fill out -- well enough. However, the new form has to be witnessed by a registered Florida notary, and expects signatories to have US Social Security Numbers and the like -- obviously not credentials you're likely to find off Maidenhead High Street!
So, I put that aside for the moment, and decided to concentrate on the wire transfer. I had written to our US bank the week prior, and they had assured me that while the transfer had to originate from their side (I couldn't "pull" the money from my local Barclays), it could be arranged completely via phone and fax. So I called them up this evening and said...well, you know the refrain by now. Turns out there was a slight detail missing from my earlier instructions: the transfer could be arranged by telephone...as long as the call originates from my home phone in Florida -- which they confirm by the simple expedient of offering to hang up and ring you back.
Well, now hold on a minute, I cautioned, and launched back into my story that we had already moved to the UK, and that number was now either disconnected or transferred to our Florida tenants. Oh dear, came the response, I'll have to check with my manager on that. So another 20min of back-and-forth, as we tried to establish a means of confirming my identity. She said one workaround would be for me to log into their website and used my authenticated access to change my residential address to our new home in the UK.
So I logged in and navigated to the appropriate screen...then growled back for clarification. "What state field should I use, AFPO or Virgin Islands?" Oh, well, just leave state for the time being and just update the country. "The only country listed in the drop-down is, um...United States." Oh, ah, just update your telephone number then, that will be enough. "Okay...um, it rejected UK phone numbers as having too many digits." Er, just, um, truncate it then, and tell me what the missing ones are.
So, we finally agreed on an authentication scheme, I passed (thank heavens), and then we were all set to dive into the fascinating world of international faxes. Not that there's anything fundamentally difficult about punching in an international number (001-area-xxx-yyyy for UK-to-US, 011-44-xxxxx-yyyyy for US-to-UK); it's just that many businesses seem to configure their fax machines to reject international dialing unless a supervisory code is entered first, meaning you need to find the appropriate authority...which gets dicey as US and UK banking hours have a pretty thin overlap, so at least one side is probably working early/late in an otherwise empty office.
To cut a tedious story mercifully short, I think the wire went through. At least, I'll watch my accounts over the next few days and hopefully see the balances changing. Next week we'll prowl High Street for a local notary, bringing along a stack of documents to prove we are who we claim to be.
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